http://danielleblanchard.com/River%20-%20A%20Cappella.mp3 circa 2011
A Cappella singing is a brave thing to do. You can’t hide behind the acoustics and harmonics of an instrumental accompaniment. To sing a cappella by yourself allows for a certain freedom, but is even more bare bones exposed. To sing multiple parts in a recording that is a cappella requires the precision of an ensemble with the added skill of listening for the nuances and breath phrasing without the benefit of seeing other singers for visual cues.
When shedding out an interpretation of a new piece I plan to perform or record, I try to lay down recordings of my different phrases so I can get a better feel of what the audience is hearing in terms of tone, volume, over or under ornamentation, and most important to me, the connection to the lyric in as conversational a manner as possible.
“River” by Joni Mitchell has long been a song I relate to. I tend to sing in a more calculated voice in comparison to Joni, who sounds more “fly by the seat of your pants” in her phrasing–not concerned with perfection of tone, pitch and inflection. I have spent so long mastering my craft to be as “perfect” in the studio that I can easily over-think it. This vocal practice session is an exercise in finding a balance between her way of singing and mine. I love the vulnerability of the a cappella on this type of song so much that it’ll be hard to coordinate a piano without accidentally making the listener more aware of a rhythmic pulse.
I will be archiving posts to my Facebook here that were actually shared earlier this month as I started sharing a Live performances. Not only had it been a reaching out to my former students who are adults, spreading the holiday spirit in music, but it has also become a bit of a personal project.
I have decided it’s time to do more recording and performing in 2013. I do so much work in the studio for clients that time is a luxury. My voice take more punishment than I would like on a daily basis as I use it to teach 8 hours of the day. While I love the fun textures you can play with when your voice is under the weather, it isn’t recommended for overall vocal health. This practice session was fun and frustrating at the same time, because I usually don’t have inherent air escapage. I used it here to a stylistic advantage, but it takes every trick in your breath control bag.
I deleted the “Jingle Bells” intro the piano usually does and have been toying with doing some overlapping carols in vocal textures as an intro. If the muse strikes and I can arrange vocal accompaniment lines, that might be an option. I don’t want to take away the vulnerability… Let me know what you think about it, and where you would like to see it go…
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Beautiful Danielle! You have a wonderful voice and this got me teary eyed as I can feel your emotion in the song.
Love this. Love your work… but you knew that.
Love it! Thanks for sharing the music as well as the process with us.